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Interview with Daniel Fox of Skreened, Part IV: Tell Me How Gosh-Darned Ethical You Are

Update, November 2015: Sadly, Skreened has chosen to sell third-world-made shirts where working conditions cannot be verified to match the Made-in-the-USA standard Skreened used to keep. We did not and do not agree to this ethical change. We no longer have the option to not sell these shirts if we keep open our Skreened shops… so we have closed our Skreened shops and now have no relationship with Skreened. Irregular Times cannot recommend Skreened as a source any longer.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I posted Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of an interview with Daniel Fox. Fox is the brains, brawn and piggy bank of Skreened, a web site that lets you sell ethical American Apparel t-shirts, raglans, kids’ apparel and even baby onesies — all with your own designs. We have our own small shop on’s beta website, and we’ll roll out a series of bigger web shops when Skreened introduces the new, fully-implemented version of its website early next month.

Below is the final portion of my conversation with Daniel Fox, in which we talk about the opening date for the new, big, sparklingly imperfect version of the Skreened website, how gosh-darned ethical he is, and the virtue of pluck:

Jim Cook: I have some really logistical questions. This new version of when will it be available for people who say, “Hot Damn! I really want to do that!” When should they look out for it?

[image originally of Daniel Fox. Image censored.]

Daniel Fox: We’re shooting for February 1st [2007], and I think we may be a little behind schedule on that, but that’s what we’re shooting for. You know, you’d always like to think that everything happens on time, and there are no bugs, but that’s always part of the process. I think it’s better to put out an incomplete process that still needs refinement, rather than wait and wait and wait until we get it just perfect and release it to everybody. Ultimately, the wisdom of the crowd using it is going to report on bugs and say, “this doesn’t work” and “this does.” I’d rather put out something that may be slightly buggy on February 1st than Beta test it and test it, then put it out on March 1st, when it will still have bugs.

Jim: Although it’s not Open Source, it almost sounds like an Open Source philosophy — to the extent that it’s always in development, always being changed and upgraded and tinkered with.

Daniel: I don’t think that’s the definition of Open Source per se.

Jim: No, but it’s one of the aspects of Open Source software, that it’s always being…

Daniel: constantly being worked on, yeah.

Jim: Was there anything else that you wanted to let us know about Skreened?

Daniel: Hey, where are all your ethical questions? I’ve got a list of all sorts of things about how gosh-darned ethical I am! (Laughing)

American Apparel Shirts at the Skreened Print ShopJim: Well, tell me how gosh-darned ethical you are! Most of the people who visit Irregular Times are already familiar with American Apparel, and what makes their product ethical, but where do your own ethics come in in terms of production?

Daniel: I’ll tell you right off the bat that 10% of our profits are going to an organization called Asia’s Hope. They do a lot of work in Cambodia, educating and feeding and housing a lot of kids who don’t have parents. Their vision is their vision, and I’m not that great at recapitulating it to people, but it’s a good thing. I went to Cambodia in 2003 and shot a documentary for my senior thesis at OSU, and that’s something we’re doing too.

Jim: One of the things we’ve found at Irregular Times, where we give away 20% of our after-tax profits to progressive political organizations, is that the more we give away, the more we draw people in to the point that people say, “Hey, I want to buy this, because I know that these aren’t people who are just taking all their money and hoarding it.”

Daniel: Yeah, it works that way.

Jim: So what else would you say characterizes your organization, ethically speaking?

Daniel: I was thinking of posting a video on YouTube today, like an e-mail I sent out yesterday: “I’m sorry: I’m not afraid to say it.” Our credit card processor had been down for the past six days, and I thought it was just a slow month! So I sent out an e-mail to everybody, and it wasn’t corporate. It’s important everybody know I’m just a guy. We’re just people here, trying to live out our dreams.

Jim: I imagine if you set up that expectation, instead of saying you’re perfect and then just stonewalling and stonewalling, people would be a lot more understanding and forgiving.

Daniel: The whole nature of the business is partnership. You’re designing, and you’re trusting us with printing and shipping, and all of this stuff you’re trusting us with. You come into this partnership with us. And so we’ll open up the doors a little bit. I don’t want to hide anything from anybody. I’m very comfortable with people seeing what I have and what I don’t have.

The world is big enough for CafePress and Spreadshirt and Goodstorm … and Skreened. And the world is big enough for and ITunes … and Skreened. And MySpace and FaceBook and Skreened. The world is big enough.

I think the best I can do in that big world is to be true to myself and my values and my ethics and make a go of it, and hope that people are drawn to that.

53 thoughts on “Interview with Daniel Fox of Skreened, Part IV: Tell Me How Gosh-Darned Ethical You Are”

  1. Iroquois Honky says:

    Okay, I’ve been biting my tongue and thinking, well, I don’t have to patronize this guy, but every time you read some racist comment on these pages, someone else posts a progressive comment to offset it. So why are there no progressive comments to offset this guy’s bigotry?

    I’m talking about the sizes. If you go to the page on his website where you buy a shirt, intead of “women’s sizes” (as American Apparel calls them) he offers “girls’ sizes”.

    Never mind that a “girls” size is an actual thing and is much smaller and the customers won’t know what they are ordering. Why is this guy still refering to women as “girls”?

    And then, how is it that he refers to attractive women on MySpace as “whores,” but when this guy has himself photographed apparently doing some sexual thing with a manequin, he can refer to himself as “ethical”. Men’s sexuality=good; women’s sexuality=bad?

    He seems to think ethics are important, and he seems to encourage dialogue, but when it comes to gender politics, where is he? For that matter, where are the rest of you?

  2. Iroquois Honky says:

    Okay, and another thing, why does the photographer make sure to get the female manequin pubes in the shot, but the male manequin is discretely cropped? You understand I know the answer, but I’m still asking the question.

  3. Jim says:

    [image removed by request of Daniel Fox, don’t ask me why, ask him why.]

  4. Jim says:

    The male mannequins don’t have penises.
    The female mannequins don’t have vulvas.

    But you wanted a dick, here it is.

  5. Jim says:

    “MySpace Whore” is an internet term. Read the citation and place it in context within the interview.

    Daniel Fox has already responded to an earlier comment of yours on the use of “girls” and “guys” rather than “women” and “men.” Did you know that the word “guy” used to refer to a “grotesquely or poorly dressed person”? Why don’t you remark on that use of the term rather than the more respectful “man?”

    Have you looked at American Apparel sizing? These are not sized as clothes for fully matured women and men. They’re sized for the young, who in the current generations refer to women and men as what?

    You understand that I know we all know the answer, he said in full passive-aggressive drama…

  6. Jim says:

    Now that we’ve gotten past the hyperbole, let me write more seriously. Since you don’t have the audio of what was going on in the photographs, and I do, since I was there: when I was taking the picture, he was groping the mannequin as himself dressed as a woman. (For people not following the conversation, look through to, I think, the second part of the interview.) You can see the parallel with the first picture above, where he’s going all ape-shit pretending to be a man with a ripped torso by putting the ripped-torso mannequin on top of himself.

    I don’t particularly like the use of the phrase “MySpace whore,” but it means something very specific for the generation that uses MySpace, which is not my generation and is not yours. It’s a similar reaction I have to the phrase “fag hag.” I find that term personally distasteful, given the number of times I got shoved into a wall after being called a “fag” as an intellectually-minded kid in a rural school district. But for a slightly younger generation of self-described “queer” people (another word I have a personal distaste for but others don’t), the phrase of a “fag hag” has come to be used to mean something different within their own community.

    Finally, you really don’t, I imagine, want to question my willingness to put naked phalluses up on this web page. I’m quite ready and willing to do so. But that mannequin was wholly castrated, which is misandry if I’ve ever seen it.

    So no, Iroquois Honky, I don’t have the same reaction you do, which (although you’re too passive-aggressive to come out and say it) is that such expressions are “sexist” in the classic 70s sense. I don’t begrudge you your reaction — you have the right to it, but just because I don’t share it doesn’t mean I’m a “sexist” in the classic 70s sense. It means I don’t have the same reaction you do, which I imagine is partially a mark of generation (cue mid-20th-century references to Donald Duck being a “gay caballero” in a Disney family movie) and partially a mark of simply being a different person. And I think you’re really, really, really jumping the gun to use that “I think we all know what I’m not saying” tactic to imply what you won’t say, when there are actually multiple considerations and multiple possible interpretations, some of which are based on assumptions of yours that mismatch with fact.

  7. Iroquois Honky says:

    Well, what I figured was that you guys were horsing around and the photos just happened to turn out that way, but I wanted to hear you say it and not put words in your mouth. There are some other interpretations that could be put on it, some not so PC ones, but after reading literally thousands and thousands of words you have written, I thought that was the most likely explanation. Surely you don’t think I would question Mr. Fox and let you off the hook.

    Intriguing discussion of “myspace whores” and “fag hags”. My boyfriend is fixated on the word “faggot” which I’ve always found annoying, I think he got some union people PO’ed, but I hadn’t thought of the generational aspect. The people who were just a little different (no one came out in those days) and we called queer back in the 70’s all died of AIDS before the 20-year reunion, so my immediate peer group doesn’t seem to have any language for that, only the names of the people who died.

    The photo I interpret as an attempt to intimidate me and anyone else who might want to question you by making an example of me. Let me point out that I do not question Rush Limbaugh and I never will. I question you and Mr. Fox because I am taking both of you seriously. If you insist on posting that silly thing, why don’t you at least put a NSFW warning on it for the poor schmucks who are trying to read this at work.

  8. Jim says:

    Please. I don’t put a phallus on the website, and it’s offensive. I do put a phallus on the website, and it’s offensive. You wanted a phallus, you got a phallus. You don’t want a phallus, don’t ask for a phallus.

  9. Iroquois Honky says:

    “Daniel Fox has already responded to an earlier comment of yours on the use of ‘girls’ and ‘guys’ rather than ‘women’ and ‘men.'”

    The response was to a question about sizing. These aparently to not refer to children’s sizes but are the same sizes American Apparel refers to as ‘men’ and ‘women’.

    My comment, after reflecting a few days, is about the use the word “girls” to mean ‘women’.

    If you follow the link I gave you, Tristan writes the following statement:

    Women are mature, grown people. Girls are children. Why is the world suddenly referring to women as girls? Everyone is doing this! I find this completely frustrating and demeaning. I am NOT a girl, just as men are not boys.

    Ever since a wave of conservatism swept over the world, women are suddenly relegated to girldom. Language affects the way we think and treat each other. Calling someone a girl when they really are a woman cuts them down by conjuring up images of capricious, immature beings who are not fully developed intellectually.

    Just like most of the women in this world, I’ve worked hard for everything from my education to my career. I don’t want to see this dismissed just because it makes insecure people feel safer by reverting back to tradition. The world is unstable right now, I know. But we need to move forward with conviction, not cower back in time.

    A few weeks later she makes the following comment:

    Having since mulled this over in my mind I realize that I will have to speak up as by not saying anything I’m abetting it. Courage, speak to me.

    It was after coming to the same conclusion on my own that I googled her remarks.

    Judging by the backlash evidenced by Jim’s crude little photo, we’re both going to need all the courage we can get.

    Another thread with some comments:

  10. Jim says:

    Yes, yes, you’re being oppressed, because after asking in an indignant way why you weren’t seeing a picture of a cock in my posts, I gave you a picture of a cock. Yes, now we see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! Someone! What, do your virgin eyes burn with the indignity of this image snatched from the jaws of that den of iniquity, Google Images? Or is it simply the burning desire to find offense no matter what someone does or says regarding a subject you find touchy?

    I have the feeling that a “backlash” is someone not agreeing with you.

    Men are referred to as “the boys” all the time, so simply having the world “girl” refer to someone who is above the age of a teenager isn’t going to cut it, especially in the context of American Apparel clothing that few women over the age of 35 are going to find fashionable on their terms, not to mention fitting.

    The third comment in the thread you cite reads: “The way it is taken depends on the context of the words, how they are said, and who says them.” “Girls and guys” simply means something different than “you girls sit down, this is a job for the men.” Words mean different things in different contexts.

    I hate to hear “pimp my ride.” But even in medicine, residents are now “pimped” in a sense unrelated definitionally to prostitution. Words change. As a person who is on the old side of young, I don’t use the word “girls” for people over the age of 18. It feels inappropriate to me, just like the use of “Monica” or “Hillary” instead of “Monica Lewinsky” or “Hillary Clinton.” Disrespectful. Creepy, even. But just because I feel that way doesn’t mean that the language doesn’t change in its meaning as I grow older and younger generations knock me out of the linguistic vanguard. Meanings shift.

    And then there’s the generational development that an increasing number of people are, functionally speaking, still occupying the roles of boys and girls well into their 20s, living home with mom and dad and not working a full-time job.

    So when I hear a younger person such as Daniel refer to “guys and girls,” I don’t have a conniption fit, even though it’s not how I would use the language, because the context is clothing designed primarily for young people on a website designed by a young person when youth is becoming ever extended.

    Similarly, I don’t expect you to agree with me on the meaning of words. But to knock somebody who’s, what, 23 years old for referring to “guys and girls” seems kind of overboard, especially given the language of casual college-speak.

  11. Iroquois Honky says:

    Some time ago, it used to be a compliment to say to a woman, “you think like a man.” Men uttered that phrase in all piousness with no idea of the disconnect women felt as a result or the hypocrites they were showing themselves to be. Would they go over to the black neighborhood and try to compliment someone black by telling them they “think like a white person”?

    Likewise, would anyone go over to a black neighborhood and start calling black males “boy”? (It used to be a synonym for “servant”, as in “boy, come over here”.) Or use the n-word? Why? Why is it not PC to use words like spick, kike, spear-chucker, nip, wop,…all the words that take someone who is different and try to reduce them semantically to an inferior status, socially and economically. That’s what the word “girl” does to women.

    Tristan again:

    It’s sunk in for me that many people view the word ‘girls’ as the equivalent of ‘guys’. I take exception to this because a ‘guy’ is a slang word for man, while a ‘girl’ is still a child. I know I’m getting into fine semantics, but I stand firm: it is demeaning to reference women as children.

    All the semantics that make up our everyday discourse reflects how we feel about each other and how we treat each other. I want to see women get the proper respect. To do this we need to demand it and not let seemingly little things like being called ‘girls’ slide.

    And from the other link, Scott says:

    “Girl” implies not only youth, but also intimacy — which is all well and good if such a relationship exists, but is demeaning if there is not already such a relationship in place between the speaker and the person about whom he is speaking….

    Walking into a management staff meeting with people you don’t know and announcing “I’ve brought doughnuts, and nonfat muffins for you girls,” is going to result in stern looks and possibly a strongly-worded letter in your personnel file.

    The whole “girl” issue really highlights the need for an informal phrase for female companions, colleagues and co-workers, along the lines of “guys.” That is, for males we have “boys” (which implies youth and, to some extent, subservience — don’t believe me? Walk into a room of adult males, point to one, and say “Come over here, boy”) and “guys” (which implies informality and friendliness). We don’t have a clearly defined phrase for females which implies informality without also implying a lower social status.

    And that’s the point of the objection to “girl” — used by men toward adult women with whom they do not have an informal, friendly or intimate relationship, it’s taken as implying a dominant/subservient relationship, even if the speaker intends it to create an aura of friendship and informality.

    My only problem with that is Scott thinks using the word “girl” is okay at home but not at other words he is willing to accord strangers more status than his own family. And women are more likely to find respect at work than within a marriage. Sad.

    When someone made a comment about Barack Obama on this site yesterday, someone immediately jumped up to say it wasn’t right and labelled it racist. Why take a stand that does not reflect popular opinion? Don’t you know everone talks that way about blacks? Not just in the south–I only have to go to the coffee shop down the street to hear that sort of language. Sorry, but the “everyone is doing it” argument just doesn’t cut it with me.

  12. Jim says:

    Fine, you apparently see it differently than Daniel Fox does, who apparently sees it differently than I do, who apparently sees it differently than you do. That’s what happens with language.

    Let me know when you need to see another penis in order to not be offended.

  13. Iroquois Honky says:

    As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I flashed on the dead bird I found on my front step yesterday…accompanied by cat footprints in the new snow. Over the years cats have proudly brought me carcasses, mostly of rodents, and I although I don’t really have a thing about dead mice, I have tried to act enthusiatic about the little gifts they bring to “their” human.

    Now it occurs to me that in posting a photo of a disembodied and possibly fake phallus, Jim has brought me a little gift and I haven’t really shown enough appreciation.

    At the same time he has repeatedly claimed that I “asked” for one, a bald-faced lie that does not become more true with repetition. But what did I say? I questioned the disparate portrayal of female manequin as a sex object while the male manquin was photographed in a discrete and respectful manner. So what does Jim do? He tries to even the score by posting a disrespectful male image. Well, two wrongs do not make a right, and two disrespects do not add up to respect, but three left turns do make a right turn, so I do appreciate the effort.

    What kind of effort does a cat make to bring a dead critter to someone’s door? It sees the critter, stalks and kills it for its own reasons, then gets tired of chewing on it and suddenly thinks of a place where it can dump the corpse and boost its public image as a brave hunter at the same time. Gifting the dead animal to a human is a definate afterthought.

    But in bringing this phallus thing to my virtual doorstep, Jim went to a lot of effort. First, he had to ponder the argument and how he might get out of it by foul means, since there really isn’t a rational way out (unless you just recognize it as tongue-in-cheek). Then he had to go into the spam filter and fish the thing out of it, thinking of me the whole time. Then he went to the effort of posting the HTML code for it in the comments section, which probably took some more extra effort.

    I am just deeply touched by the whole thing, and Jim, I will always remember this special moment we had together.

  14. Iroquois Honky says:

    Jim says, “Let me know when you need to see another penis in order to not be offended.”

    Oh, but Jim, you missed the point. I AM offended, deeply offended, and I think although Daniel Fox seems to be a nice boy, he needs to rethink the “ethics” of his public stance.

  15. daniel fox says:

    oh, wow. i just stumbled on the comments here, and am sorely tardy for the conversation. let me read everything and attempt a poorly crafted, off-the-cuff response. one moment

  16. Iroquois Honky says:

    Hey Daniel Fox, glad you caught up with us. Craft as long as you want, I’ll be gone for a while, but I look forward to reading your remarks later on.

  17. daniel fox says:

    hey Iroquois Honky,

    I agree with you about the potential and power of language to be used in both oppressive speech and also empowering speech.

    so, right off the bat, my decision to use guys and girls was solely based on keeping the writing on the site informal. It seemed a little stuffy to say “mens” and “womens”. so no, there was no semantic violence intended toward women (or men) in the use of guys and girls.

    Was there semantic violence and perpetuated opression that resulted from my use of these terms. You believe there could have been. Which is totally legitimate. But I haven’t heard anyone else speak about this language as if it was a problem.

    I really intended to post this comment as a way of announcing that i was happy to change guys and girls to men and women, but I’m not altogether sure about it.

    this is the semantic question.
    For my target market, does guy/girl mean more ‘casual/fun’ or ‘oppressive/demeaning’ (to either sex).

    I’ll crusade about a lot of stuff, particularly using our resources to help other people feed, clothe, educate and shelter themselves. These are people who may not have the time to worry about whether they are offended by my use of guy/girl. And ultimatly i have to say, i just haven’t heard from enough people to make this a convincing argument.

  18. daniel fox says:

    oh crap. i just used the word crusade; sorry, i hate the historical connotation of that word.

    perhaps i’m hopelessly cut out to just hire a PR person to conduct my interviews. but I’d rather talk to people one on one, even if i do screw it up.

  19. yyyme says:

    Go Daniel, Go! Why do people have to read more into anything than what it actually is? I’ve read through alot of the posts here tonight and, quite frankly, I think I’ll end with this comment: What does one second of negativity add to anyone’s life? Answer: absolutely nothing.

  20. Iroquois Honky says:

    1)Why is it when someone raises awkward questions about power relationships, those in positions of power start to make accusations of “negativity”. That’s exactly the same talk they started about Jim over on Unity08 website when he started raising questions about financial transparency.

    2)some of their arguments for calling African Americans niggas tend to kind of fall apart when you analyze them.

    3)In post #14 I refer to Mr. Fox as “a nice boy.” No one has challenged me on this so far. Does that mean they think Mr. Fox is indeed a boy? Perhaps Jim’s characterization of this generation as an immature one that just lives with mommy and daddy instead of growing up has hit home. (Let’s see, I’m a boomer, I think Jim is GenX, that would make Mr.Fox a Metro, or is there yet a name for this generation?)Let me ask the question another way. Does Mr. Fox have any self esteem? Is he just going to wear whatever characterizations people throw on him?

    4)As the person here who is the oldest, the smartest, the most mature and has the most judgment, do I have an obligation to set an example? Do I need to teach them about self-esteem and backbone, if their mommies neglected to do it? Or should I just try to get away with whatever put downs I can manage, in the hopes of undermining their credibility. Will digging a hole under someone else make me look taller?


  21. imagetest says:
  22. imagetest1 says:

  23. Jim says:

    You don’t know whether yyyme is in a position of power, and neither do I. You don’t know whether Daniel Fox lives with his parents. You don’t know. Therefore whatever you write is impossible to evaluate, except to the extent that it contributes nothing to the conversation, being untethered to reality.

  24. daniel fox says:

    hi IH,

    some responses, and then i’m going to have to let this topic go as it has degenerated into namecalling and questioning, at least that’s how i’m reading your last comment, i could be wrong.

    1. i am 26. i believe its the tail end of genX. my wife is 31, genx as well. I put myself through school and own a home, I haven’t lived at home since 18.

    2. The self esteem point you raise is a good one. Yes, i indeed esteem myself. and that’s exactly the reason i didn’t just bend to your semantic argument and change my site right away. I respect your opinion; it made me think. I also respect my own opinion, so i weighed them. Any other accusations about self-esteem or calling names seem really uncharacteristic of a productive discussion. So that may, indeed, leave you with a last word on the topic.

    3. I’m glad you fancy yourself the oldest, smartest, most mature, and posessing the most judgment of the people who have posted in this comment section. I think it would be wonderful for you to use that to set an example. Unfortunatly, in my opinion, the only example you have set thus far is kind-of just trying to pick a fight with people who want to have a nice discource about the topics you’re bringing up.

    so, as they say on some news show i don’t watch, “IH, You get the last word”.

  25. daniel fox says:

    so sorry. one more thing and i’ll be done.

    in post #20 point #3, IH wrote:
    Let me ask the question another way. Does Mr. Fox have any self esteem? Is he just going to wear whatever characterizations people throw on him?

    On the contrary, people can throw characterizations on my all day long and it doesn’t amount to anything that deserves a response.

    If i were to be affected at the level of personal identity by comments from an unknown internet poster, or anyone else for that matter, I believe that for me, it would indicate an insecurity and possible lack of self esteem.

    Not that this is even the worst thing you can call me. Lets say I do have low self esteem, and i’m just building a business and helping people so I can get some attention. Who cares? I sure don’t. My motives for any large and complex venture aren’t purely altruistic, I’ve got a household to feed, internal ‘control’ to maintain, and sometimes a little ego to stroke.

    Sometimes it’s wrong, and I’m definitly secure in the face that it’s OK that I’m wrong. I embrace it. I also embrace personal change and growth. Both are welcome here.

  26. yyyme says:

    FYI, this generation are calling themselves “millenias”

  27. Iroquois Honky says:

    I want to take some time to address some of the issues raised, as I think they’re important ones, hopefully I will have time later tomorrow. I’m saddened to be accused of singlehandedly “picking a fight”, being “untethered to reality” and “letting the topic degenerate”, but those sorts of remarks are par for this site. I doubt the accusations would have been made if I had identified myself as male.

    The images I tried to paste with html code directly in the comments but it looks like you can’t get that kind of html support unless you’re admin. So, Jim, the link I will take down in a day or so, as sites that keep it posted tend to lose bandwidth when the myspace kids find it and start linking to it. In case you don’t know what I linked to, it is the notorious image from the now defunct–there are still mirrors of the image out there if someone really wants to see it after I take it down. Yesterday when I stepped outside I put my foot right on the dead bird that someone’s cat keeps putting on my front step, which immediately made me think of Jim, fondly of course, and also reminded me that I hadn’t done anything to show my appreciation after Jim went to so much effort to find (and drag in) an image for me in post #2. Here is a non-shock explanation of the image I posted for him and all the woman-haters:

  28. Iroquois Honky says:

    Here is a summary of the arguments for calling women “girls”. By extension, I would say they are also arguments for the n-word and other slurs based ethnicity and other accidents of birth. Possibly even lynchings and gas chambers, since words are the precursors to actions.

    Jim’s arguments:

    1)A photograph of a phallus.

    Look up “straw man fallacy.” Jim says I requested that he post such a photo and he just acted like a good sheep and did so. But what were my exact words? “…why does the photographer make sure to get the female manequin pubes in the shot, but the male manequin is discretely cropped?” So my question was about the undignified portrayal of the female body. Jim could have answered the question easily enough in less than 10 words, but he did so in 4 separate posts, grossly misrepresenting my question in the process. How dare, dare, dare a woman ask a question in Jim’s little fiefdom.

    2)”These are not sized as clothes for fully matured women and men.”

    American Apparel refers to these sizes “men” and “women”. My city does have an American Apparel store, and some day I should go in and try something on to have some firsthand knowledge. There used to be a size in between “girls” ladies” and “womens” (read, “large”) called juniors. It was for that awkward age where junior high school students don’t want to wear Little Miss Muffet styles, but don’t really have any bosom to fit the adult styles with teenage fashion. The models in American Apparel photos have bosoms.

    3)”such expressions are “sexist” in the classic 70s sense”

    It is only okay to respect an ethnic or social group only if it is trendy to do so. Ethics shifts with fashion and public opinion. Watergate was unethical only becasue it was unfashionable in the 70s. If Watergate were to happen in another era when it was fashionable, it would then be ethical. Gas chambers were fashionable in the 40s but were unethical because they become unfashionable for that decade.

    4)”I don’t have the same reaction you do”

    Ethics is just a matter of internal personal reaction. If someone else has a different reaction, they are wrong and you are right. More specifically, straight white males have the right to determine by their “internal personal reaction” what is an offensive label for black males, for ethnic males, for all females, and for all gays. None of these groups have the right to define themselves or define any expression as a slur.

    5)”Men are referred to as “the boys” all the time”

    By who? I don’t ever hear this used in mixed company. Women use it when talking with other women to complain about perceived male immaturity. It is an intentional put-down used to describe a relationship that is not working. Often you will hear someone say this about a significant other in the year preceding a divorce. No woman wants people to think she hasn’t got a mature man on her hands, but they say that breaking up is hard to do, and any port in a storm.

    Perhaps men talk about themselves this way? They say only blacks can get away with using the n-word. In which case the epithet is self-definition.

    6)”Words mean different things in different contexts.”

    This was the old argument about using gender neutral language. According to the old argument, the real meaning of “men” was really “men and women”. As in “Peace on earth good will to men.” If someone reading the word “men” and did not immediately guess that this really meant “men and women” in any particular context, it was not the fault of the writer. Now gender neutral language is taught in English 101 and is in all the grammar handbooks. It is because of the possiblity of misinterpretation that the writer needs to use accurate expressions. Personally I think if someone says ‘goodwill to men’, they intended to exclude women from that statement.

    7)”younger generations knock me out of the linguistic vanguard”

    Slurs are okay as long as they are in the “vanguard’. Ethics depends on your age and whether you are setting a trend.

    8)”an increasing number of people are, functionally speaking, still occupying the roles of boys and girls well into their 20s”

    It’s not a slur if it is true. If it is not true for all the members of the sub-group it only has to be true for some of the members or it only has to be perceived as true. It doesn’t matter whether all blacks are thieves, all Arabs are terrorists, all Greeks are perverted, or all web-site editors are arrogant. All you have to do is assert that it is true and it’s okay to impune the stereotypes of a few to the entire group.

    It is my own observation that more people–relatives–are doubling up with housing, but I interpret the reasons to be a national shortage in affordable housing and a decrease in real earning power of wages. Also generational differences. Boomers and genX are supposed to be a lot closer to each other than other generations, so it is psychologically easier to share physical space. I certainly feel like I’m talking to peers here, but maybe others feel more like I’m “getting down on the floor” (with the children), as they say about older generations who try to use young slang.

    9)”given the language of casual college-speak”

    It doesn’t matter whether “casual” language negatively impacts some social group. Casual is always good. People exist to serve “casual.” “Casual” does not exist to serve people.

    10)”even though it’s not how I would use the language”

    This sort of speaks for itself. It’s nice to think of academic arguments for calling women “girls” and it’s nice to defend people you think of as unique or altruistic, but if you aren’t willing to use the language yourself, that’s sort of a bottom line statement about the abstract arguments you are making.

    Daniel Fox’s arguments:

    1)”I haven’t heard anyone else speak about this language as if it was a problem.”

    Ethics depends on majority opinion. Ethics can be determined by voting.

    2)”For my target market”

    It sounds like the bottom line is what you are looking at here…it’s an economic decision, maybe I’m jumping in this interpretation.

    My question about whether I as an older person (I was being tongue in cheek about the other stuff, I’m not really that arrogant, but I’m not above playing the age card) should set an example for you and Jim, pertains to whether you should set an example for the teenyboppers or millenias or whatever they are who are the buyers of you products.(but not necessarliy the people who make the decisions about which products are offered for sale to this group.) Do you buy into their value system, especially if it is dubious or do you show leadership? I admit it is sometimes easier for me to be led into flame wars by the hotheads here than to act my age, and more fun too, but on a few issues I do disagree with admin, and gender is one of them. I do have a unique female perspective they cannot have no matter how much enlightenment they try to receive.

    3)does guy/girl mean more ‘casual/fun’ or ‘oppressive/demeaning’

    Yes. Both. To me, “guy” is neutral/casual, “boy” is demeaning/casual and recognized as such, “girl” is demeaning/casual but more insidious because it damages without always being recognized, i.e. a “good” woman is immature, just like a “good niggaer” is subserviant, thus the use of the word “bad” in black slang to mean “not conforming to white obedienace standards.” Some say the word “gal” is equal to “guy” but I find the word somewhat “western rodeo” gum-chewing in flavor and blue collar. (As someone who grew up in a cow college town I place myself firmly on the “town” side of the town/country divide.) I think the ‘casual/constructive’ and ‘expected-immaturity/destructive’ aspects cannot be separated.

    Some observations in no particular order:
    1) 99 to 1 odds “yyyme” is both white and male
    2) Why do we appologize for “crusade” and ignore its many meanings but jump to say “jihad” just means “striving” and really has many positive religious meanings?
    3) Jim, if you want the image, I was trying to paste it into the comments inline with the IH signature if you feel like trying to edit it, otherwise I will delete the link when this thread goes for a day without comments. I’ve had my fun with it, hee hee, but let me point out I did post NSFW on it to prevent inadvertant viewing.
    4) Daniel Fox, the whole point of calling you a “nice boy“, and I don’t use that kind of language except I was making a point here–and I will get to the point…I was trying to figure out how you yourself felt about being called “boy” in that way if you are willing to call someone else “girl”. You didn’t say you were offended, so I won’t apologize, but I sensed some uneasiness, as you seemed kind of defensive about trying to prove you were really mature and you didn’t belong grouped with “those other people”. I don’t think anyone can ever really walk in someone else’s moccasins, but that was the closest I could come to trying to show you what it felt like so you could understand it internally.
    5)Talking about self-definition, no one from that age group has been involved in the discussion. None of us identify as belonging to that group, but we’re busy trying to interpret something about them. Wonder what they think? Or if they think of ethics at all. Interesting discussion, thanks Jim, for introducing it.

  29. daniel fox says:

    Thanks for following up with your thoughts. sincerely.
    I don’t know if you want me to respond to these or if you wanted to take me up on the last word, but I’ll respond and you can tell me to shut-it if you’de like.

    So, theres at least 2 points I’m conceding on, maybe more, we’ll see. Ethics, and especially personal ethics shoulden’t be determined by popular opinion. You’re right on that. In fact, my statement didn’t sit right with me after I posted it. Truth is, I’m just not super-well versed in progressive gender discussion. This is the most intense talk I have actually ever had on the topic. So, I don’t mean to plead ignorance, but it’s just not something I’m well aquanted with. In that respect, i transgressed in some forbidden progressive territory without knowing it; and if you or anyone else was offended or off-put by that, please accept my apology.

    Also, you brought to light the comment about my target market, and reframed it to be about the bottom line. I don’t feel you were jumping to conclusions there. The bottom line is important to me. If I’m going to have an impact in people’s lives via the vehicle of my company, I have to make sure i have an economicly viable company. That said, I’ve made some decisions that adversly affect my bottom line with regard to ethics in other arenas, i.e. carying american apparel, which costs me WAY more just on the shirts i mess up, than if i carried some garment made with sweat-labor.

    It’s something I’m at least somewhat versed in. This, in contrast to being relativly uninformed about the history and hotbuttons of our gender politics discussion. I do feel a responsability to lead in terms of being ethical. This discussion has brought to light new ways which I can do that. For that, I thank you. You’ve educated me.

    also, I just got the point of your ‘ nice boy ‘ comment. Cool. I didn’t understand where that was coming from before, but thanks for explaining. I wasn’t offended, I don’t fancy myself one quick to take offense. I don’t mind being called a boy. But in the context of the article, it DID have a different meaning to me. I felt happy to be called ‘nice’, and i also felt happy that it seemed like someone was calling me ambitious, or something akin to a prodigy. Those things vary in their relative truth, but I’m just being honest about how they were recieved.

    Thanks for teaching me something, and for adding to the discussion.

  30. Iroquois Honky says:

    As far as the “last word” I don’t fancy myself an Andy Rooney, in fact I suspect he may be the secret reason for the invention of the television remote control, as well as the “mute” button. I have always thought the more discussion, the better. Sometimes it also helps clear up misunderstanding, as I try to keep up with younger slang meanings, and also present my ideas as globally as I can so I will not be misunderstood.

    Yes, the nice boy comment was a “left-handed compliment”. Taken at face value I found what you are doing to be intriguing and valuable, and Jim’s introduction made you as a person seem more accessible and understandable in spite of the generational thing (and whatever you were doing with that poor manequin :~). But since you put the “girl” poison pill into your site, I put the condescending “boy” barb into my remark. I don’t ususally try to condescend to people or not take them seriously just because they are younger, that’s not what I’m about. But how to point out the problem with the language without being offensive? After all, we’re both guests here and you were nice enough to give Jim a fairly exclusive glimpse of what you are doing. In return he obviously wants to give you favorable exposure, and I do trust Jim’s judgment.

    I’m not sure that I qualify on an expert on “progressive gender politics”, but probably someone of the Hillary and/or Yoko Ono crowd would be offended. The first thing I’ve read on the subject since the 1960’s “Sisterhood is Powerful” (with the raised fist on the cover)is the textbook “Foundations of Employment Discrimination Law” by John Donohue, which I’m not particluarly recommending to you as I read you as more of an artist than a politician. If you look at the current pattern of legislation and court cases, the direction of discrimination law has been to water down racial and age discrimination definitions while strengthening law against gender discrimination. An example is the use of pornography in the worksite. Although it was common to see porn posted in offices and in people’s cubicles in the 80s, particularly where women were taking jobs in traditionaly male fields, it is now considered discriminatory and illegal as it creates a “hostile work environment” by trying to make a group of people uncomfortable.

    On a personal note, I remember a discussion in the 70’s about a “girl” in someone’s office whose actions someone thought were inappropriate. As the descriptions of the behaviour went on and on, everyone agreed the actions of the “girl” appeared worse and worse. Then it came out the “girl” was in fact a grown middle-aged woman with teen-aged children. In this context the “girl’s” actions suddenly become completely appropriate and everyone who had initially listened to the story sympathetically now told the complainer his expectations were not reasonable. In case you think we have put this part of our culture behind us and it is old history, a similar story is told in one of the threads I posted the link to.

    I too saw the “how many Jews in the ashtray” shirt and thought twice about it. Deeply offensive, yes, but as I once told a friend who was agonizing over having accepted a printing job from a neo-Nazi group, it is the center that governs (at least it used to be)and the fringe that keeps the center honest. So she was just making one more type of speech, however abhorant, possible, to add to the public debate. If she had engaged in that type of speech herself, I certainly would have reconsidered the basis of our friendship. Having the “ashtray” thing on your site makes me pause, yes, but the “girl” thing makes me pause a lot, lot longer, becasue it’s not just on the site from some shopkeeper, it’s part of the site’s official stuff.

    If I have time I will say something later about sexuality and the historical opposition to women’s rights.

  31. Iroquois Honky says:

    So here’s the little Sunday afternoon sex-talk I sort of promised–more on the subject of the “girl” vs. “woman” language:

    1)Sexual violence against women who speak out

    When you say, “I haven’t heard anyone else speak about this language as if it was a problem,” you might think about the reasons why and what would happen to someone who said they didn’t like this type of language.

    If you have ever been part of a campus “Take Back the Night” march protesting violence against women, you may have heard the phrase, “There’s a curfew for women and it’s enforced by rapists.”

    Whenever women have tried to get their rights–voting rights, equal employment rights, the right to walk safely on campus, whatever–there have always been men who have attacked them sexually as a political strategy. If you read about the first women’s suffrage marches in England (for the history-challenged, “suffrage” means voting rights)the women who marched were often physically attacked and groped by groups of policemen.

    When the Equal Rights Amendment was going around in the 70s, the most vocal arguments against it were “the amendment is supported by women who are not good-looking” and “those in favor of this amendment are women who just need a good lay.” Both argments are ad hominemarguments (they didn’t address the value of the amendment)and are nothing more than crude sexual inuendo.

    I still see a backlash surrounding the whole subject, and I would not discuss this publicly with anyone any more than I would engage in a debate about abortion under my own name.

    If you don’t believe me, look at what happened to me when I said something on this thread. Look how Jim (an admitted liberal) disrespectfully forces a phallus under my nose while making obnoxious statements like “you wanted a dick, here it is” and refering darkly to something called “full passive-aggressive drama.” Does he really think I can’t get as many of those as I want on my own?

    The fact is, women who make public statements supporting women’s issues are likely to be bombarded with unwelcome sexual crudities, not to mention housekeeping advice from their mothers. It’s an issue some prefer to support quietly.

    When my grandmother died, people started putting together things to say about her life. One of the things I found out was that she had once participated in a women’s suffrage march. So it’s genetic. I choose my battles, but I will fight for full humanhood for women, no matter what kind of pictures Jim thrusts under my nose.

    2)The cultural pressure to remain a “girl”

    The primary definition of “girl” is “child”. What is the difference between a child and an adult? One huge difference is sexuality. But our culture views sexuality differently for males and females. Males are seen as being more sexual. So when we call women “girls”, we are saying they are asexual. When we call women “girls”, we are saying it’s bad for women to be sexual.

    Another tradeoff here is in the type of verbal violence Jim so conveniently demonstrated with his phallic photo. This type of attack would be inappropirate for children, for “girls” if you will. If you are willing to define yourself as a “girl” you exempt yourself from this sort of verbal violence.

    Another facet is the definition of womanhood. Someone on one of those threads said ‘you’re not a woman until you have your first period’. Ewww. Forty years ago “womanhood” would have meant engaging in sex for the first time. Who wants to discuss their sexual history publicly by referring to themselves a woman? I would argue some sort of personal maturity is needed before playing with fire, but how do we define womanhood?

    BTW, the ususal reason given for male desire to restrict, define, and control female sexuality is to know for sure who is the father of their children for inheritance purposes. If you don’t own a fiefdom it becomes less important, and lower class women generally had more freedom. As paternity gets easier to prove, will we also see a relaxation of attitudes towards female sexuality?

    In terms of having an online business, you might want to ask yourself if you really know who your customers are. Is your customer the person who buys the shirt or the person who sets up the shop and markets the product? I would question whether your customers are all in the 14-19 year range. I have been in a cultural exploration group here and the women in the group are very fashion savvy, smaller than american women, and speak favorably of American Apparel. They are, I would say, in their 30’s. Also I would point out that you are listening primarily to men and swallowing what they say hook line and sinker, even though they are talking shit. We all know American men do a disappearing act when it comes to women shopping for clothes. You might want to bite the bullet and have your wife or someone in the age group you think is in your target market take you shopping and see how they shop for sizes (will they really shop in a “girls” department?).

  32. Jim says:


    I didn’t “forcibly shove a phallus under your nose.”

    I have never seen your nose. No, there is an IMAGE of a phallus, clearly photoshopped, that appears, NOT under your nose, but on a screen. This phallus has NO potential to appear under your nose.

    You complained that mannequins in the images of this post didn’t have phalluses, and made the passive-aggressive (YES, passive-aggressive) insinuation that such absence was due to my sexism.

    So I called you on that, and gave you the image of a phallus — the very LACK of which you were complaining about. And now that, too, is proof of my sexism.

    Your reaction is proof — no matter what someone does — either put an image of a phallus on a screen or NOT put an image of a phallus on a screen — you will choose to be offended. That is both a logical and moral problem for you.

    That’s what I mean when I write “Bullshit.”

  33. Jim says:

    By the way, if you want to lecture me about sexism, why don’t you try not pulling the go-over-the-head-of-the-husband-to-wifey schtick, tell her to not take me at my own word, and then instruct her to fix me some nice chicken soup and give me some wifely TLC:

    Sounds like a classic case of denial to me.


    Comment by Tracy are you reading this

    Oh, and touching will help trigger the mind/body connection that makes married men live longer than single men. Jim can make the chicken soup but his wife has to bring it to him. And she has to give him backrubs too, right? In the interests of health?

    Comment by Tracy You Need To Look At Your Significant Other

    Tracy Are You Keeping An Eye On This On

    I am, despite being a mere man, entirely capable of simultaneously taking care of myself, my children, the household and a business. I do not need my wife to tend to me in the very antiquated manner you suggest.

    And after trying to get me offended (unsuccessfully) by posting a picture of a chapped asshole, you’re whining about the picture of a phallus.


  34. Jim says:

    Done talking with you.

    Enjoy having a hissy fit by yourself.

  35. Brer rabbit says:

    In post #2 I asked a simple informational question:

    Okay, and another thing, why does the photographer make sure to get the female manequin pubes in the shot, but the male manequin is discretely cropped?

    and I answered it myself in post #7:

    Well, what I figured was that you guys were horsing around and the photos just happened to turn out that way

    Where did I complain about the absence of phalluses (phalli?)in this post? Quote me directly. You can’t, can you. Because you made the whole thing up. Look up “straw man fallacy”. As far as “insinuations” and your “sexism”, you’re just making that up too. Can’t quote me directly on that either, can you. Oh, but you know what I’m thinking, right? More mind-reading, a control freak, or just arrogance?

    So if I am reading this correctly, you are saying that whenever someone complains about the lack of a phallus or anything else on any post, you will just post one for them, just like that. Or maybe you will only do it for me. Shall I test the premise by requesting a phallus on multiple posts? Why did you really post that thing, Jim?

    And I said you had thrust the phallus under my nose. I’m tall–only an inch or so shorter than you–so my entire screen is definately below nose level even if I slouch.

    But ooohh, Jim I do so love it when you type the word “phallus”.

    Do tell me more about the photoshopped part.


  36. Iroquois Honky says:

    Well, I will apologize for the thing about your wife. But she’s a doctor and the stuff you were posting sounded like you were seriously, immediately, and dangerously ill. A lot of your other readers were worried too, not just me. If you had posted that she had looked at you, we would have stopped worrying and understood that you were being taken care of. Jim, we all need someone. I’m sorry about hurting your pride, but not for trying to make sure someone was intervening for your health.

  37. Iroquois Honky says:

    So I try to defend myself from wild accusations and my post is deleted? Why am I being censored?

    I have asked about reasons for two things, the use of the word girl and the way a female manequin was pictured. Mr. Fox gave me a courteous reply about the language.

    From Jim I have gotten a lot of verbiage that boils down to “she was asking for it.” Where have I heard that before?

    I know Jim is playful, and likes games of rhetoric, playing the bad boy, and testing the limits of public taste. A lot of times I play along just to see what I will learn. But I draw the line at the point of hate speech directed at some group or just plain personal viciousness that attempts to hurt someone. Playing martyr and inventing grievances to try to justify having done something you wish you hadn’t done doesn’t go very far with me either. This latest round of personal attacks, false accusations, and character assassinations is way, way over the top, even for Jim.

    It’s not funny.

  38. Jim says:

    Nothing deleted. Have a hissy fit by yourself. Bye.

  39. Iroquois Honky says:

    I’ll be sure to do that.

    What is not clear is whether the photo and remarks were meant to annoy me personally or to short-circuit a discussion of gender issues.

  40. anonymous says:

    Boys, boys, boys…no need to argue over spilled milk, its more fun to kiss and make up or post Part V of the interview.

  41. Iroquois Honky says:

    In my dreams…but I am strictly a female female, if you’ll pardon a play on the old song. Jim hates me. I’m not a sycophant.

  42. yyyme says:

    Oh, so Jim only likes those who flatter him excessively?

  43. Iroquois Honky says:

    I think he walks on water, but I also disagree with him from time to time. I`m probably the only person to post anything here like a reality check. He does seem to have a hot button for gender issues. Maybe because he doesn`t have the t-shirt for it.

  44. yyyme says:

    May I ask what that t-shirt would say if he had one?

  45. yyyme says:

    The first to my mind is a quote from Muhammad Ali, “Me [pause] We”. These were the first two words he spoke when he stood before a group of students at Harvard University. Profound I think, in many ways.

  46. Jim says:

    no, yyyme. It’s not disagreement I have a problem with. It’s something else. Look for it.

  47. Iroquois Honky says:

    See? It’s dialogue he has a problem with. Dialogue that is not initiated and controlled by him. Although we have been trying to have a dialogue about gender, (and I even tried to move the destructive stuff to another thread so whatever personal problem Jim has with me could burn out there and leave Mr. Fox with a nice thread to show his grandchildren some day), Jim repeatedly comes through here with his big muddy feet, blowing smoke and posting disruptive stuff so no one can have a serious discussion.

    Why won’t he say what he has a problem with? He’s done it on other threads and other websties. This guy is very very verbal. The reason must be somthing he can’t ask for legitimately.

    Jim sells t-shirts. He doesn’t sell gender issue t-shirts. Therefore this thread does not help his bottom line.

    I think Muhammad Ali had a health problem that affected his speech.

  48. Jim says:

    Oh, I don’t?

    That’s just a small sample.

  49. Jim says:

    You want me to come out and say it? Fine.

    No, it’s not dialogue I have a problem with. It’s not control I have an issue with. It’s not women I have a problem with.

    I have a problem with conversations with YOU. Conversations with YOU in particular, “Iroquois Honky.”

    I have a problem with conversations with YOU because, as you have showed multiple times in this thread, you have a problem with accuracy. You say multiple things that are demonstrably not true, and when I point one out you just move on to another, and some times you repeat these things that are demonstrably not true. You introduce incorrect personal claims about me and other persons (ex. Daniel Fox lives with his parents) into conversations, turning these conversations into personal discussions rather than discussions about issues. While you complain that you are being censored (which you have complained about before and which you are not), you focus on “hate speech” and speak of actual personal injury suffered from the onslaught of images and words that you disagree with. You choose to come here of your own volition, expose yourself to these words and images you disagree with, then introduce similar words and images, then complain that they exist, while asserting that you have been “censored” when you have not.

    I find conversing with you to be like trying to talk to a hyperactive kangaroo high on LSD, armed with a deck of foam-padded playing cards and humming the Star-Spangled Banner on a kazoo. I’ve had this experience with you on multiple threads, on multiple topics spanning yes, gender, but also religion and global politics. Each time, I end up with the high, hyperactive, kazoo-humming, foam-padded card throwing kangaroo experience. It is a non-linear, soul-sucking waste of my time. I do not have the time for this pointless exercise in psychedlic unreality.

    YES, that’s a personal insult against YOU. YES, it’s personal. YES, that was a personal “attack”. YES, I suppose that was just “hate speech.” But you wanted to know why I wouldn’t talk to you any more? Now you know. THAT is why I will no longer converse with you. Not everyone. Not people I disagree with. YOU.

  50. Jim says:

    To everyone else, please do not interpret my future silence as agreement with anything else Iroquois Honky has to say, either about me personally, about my family or my super-secret thoughts.

  51. Iroquois Honky says:

    Yeah, but Jim, how do you REALLY feel?

    What did I ever say that was not true?
    What persoanl claims did I ever make about you?
    When did I ever claim Daniel Fox lives with his parents?

    These are all inventions. Could it be projection? Google “straw man fallacy.”

    If you are going to take exception to something I say, please quote me directly.

    Anyhow I thought you were going to stop baiting me (what you refer to as “conversing”) way back when.

    BTW, I like the slogans. You can add to that the one from my undergraduate mentor’s refrigerator, “No woman has ever murdered a man while he was washing the dishes.”

  52. Nijma says:

    Daniel Fox, for what it’s worth, I don’t have a way to identify the age group of people who buy shirts through my blog, but I can tell you their sizes–about 50% order shirts that are size Large, XL or XXL. As far as gender breakdown, about 50% buy men’s shirts, 35% women’s shirts and 15% unisex union shirts.

    As far as what someone in any generation thinks about what kind of language is trendy, I don’t care anything about that when I decide what to put on my blog or what suppliers of services to use. At work I get paid to accommodate difficult people and promote someone else’s vision. I blog in order to promote my own vision.

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